BELMAR, NJ — First impressions can become lasting impressions. And for a retail establishment, that can make the difference whether customers will walk through its doors.

 “Belmar Shines” is the latest program of the Belmar Business Partnership (BBP), designed to encourage businesses to create a welcoming and inviting look — inside and outside their establishments — that attracts visitors.

It is part of the BBP’s ongoing initiative to improve the overall aesthetic appeal of Belmar’s business sectors, as the seashore town prepares for the busy tourist season.

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“The appearance of each business has an impact on other businesses and on visitors’ overall impression of our town,” said BBP trustee Thomas Burke. “Creating a lasting impression creates customers who return time and again — not only to a particular store, but also to nearby businesses.”

For the past several years, the nonprofit group has concentrated its visual improvement efforts on the central shoppping district, livening up Main Street with welcoming banners, and placing large planters filled with seasonal foliage along that main artery, as well as on 10th Avenue and Pyanoe Plaza. Benches and bike racks also have been installed for the convenience of shoppers. Recently, similar efforts have also extended to the retail hub at Route 71 and 16th Avenue, and along Ocean Avenue.

While these efforts have gone a long way in improving the welcoming feel of Belmar’s business districts, individuals businesses that take the next step “will help tie the bow on top of these visual improvements the BBP has made,” said Burke, who heads the group’s organization committee, which is managing the program. “Let’s do all we can to create a great experience for our visitors.”

Here is how “Belmar Shines” works:

Three times per calendar year — April, August and November — one Belmar business will be recognized for its efforts to make their business “shine” and will receive a $250 gift certificate to the Belmar business of their choice. A business can only be selected once a year.

BBP is in the process of establishing a committee consisting of two BBP members and two business owners who will develop program criteria, including how selections will be made.

This year, the first “Belmar Shines” winner is expected to be announced in August. For a program overview, click herepdf.

Business owners who are interested in the program, including becoming a committee member, can contact BBP at 732-894-9022 or info@belmarbusinesspartnership.com.

Created by Belmar to manage its Special Improvement District, BBP is the nonprofit district management corporation whose mission is to foster the economic development and revitalization of the Belmar business district through private/public partnerships.

Its operations are primarily funded through an assessment on all commercial properties in Belmar, along with some sponsorship and other additional income sources. For more information about BBP, visit its website or its Facebook page for the latest news.

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